A group of teachers and parents founded Habitot Children's Museum in 1998 with one specific mission in mind: to foster children up to 6 years old by encouraging their creativity and natural curiosity. Today, the 4,000-square-foot museum backs up this mission with research—gleaned from studies by scientists, psychologists, and educators—positing that healthy play spurs social skills, creative thinking, and problem solving, laying the foundation for kids to succeed later in life and imprison boogeymen in their booby-trapped closet tomorrow.
At Habitot, kids find such opportunities at small-scale exhibits and themed play areas throughout the museum. Aspiring firefighters steer a small-scale truck, race through a pretend burning building, and maneuver the hose and nozzle from a fire hydrant, all while donning coats, boots, and helmets. Young explorers press buttons, turn dials, and issue commands for pretend space launches inside a 13-foot model rocket ship or navigate a vertical floor-to-ceiling maze designed to mimic worm tunnels. At the waterworks table and pumping station, young engineers manipulate water using buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pitchers to help them understand H2O’s unique properties, such as how it keeps boats afloat on the arms of a thousand mermen. (At different times throughout the year, the staff transforms this area with a different theme; at times it’s been a car wash, a marine-science lab, or the racing grounds for a rubber-ducky regatta.) Visitors can tap into their inner Van Goghs at the art studio, where they play with soft clays and go nuts on a paintable wall. Habitot also hosts year-round children's camps with themes such as beaches, transportation, space, castles, and science.
Members at Curves, a fitness center designed for women, rotate around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, strengthen bones, and increase metabolism. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage participants’ machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use your own body weight, fitness level, and aerodynamic water bottles to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions can create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to help create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Kevin Allen earned his personal training certification in 1989, but he didn’t stop there. Instead, he layered more expertise and experience onto his resume with every passing year, finally founding Namaste Personal Training to share his wealth of fitness knowledge with as many clients as possible. Now the gym has been named Oakland magazine's best gym in the East Bay in 2012 and 2013, a title Allen and his team of four trainers uphold by addressing patrons’ individual fitness goals in one-on-one personal training sessions, or obliterating bucket loads of calories in group fitness classes. They also tailor introductory fitness courses exclusively to beginners, lowering class size, shortening duration, and eliminating exercises that involve flaming jump ropes.